Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López has sought refuge in the Spanish embassy in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas after a court issued a warrant for his arrest.
According to the Spanish government, Lopez, his wife and daughter are staying in the in the residence of the Spanish ambassador to Venezuela, Jesús Silva Fernández.
In a statement, Spain has refused to turn over Mr. Lopez to Venezuelan authorities:
“Spain trusts that the Venezuelan authorities will respect the inviolability of the Spanish Ambassador’s residence.”
Lopez has been on house arrest since 2017, however, on Tuesday he escaped to join National Assembly leader, Juan Guaido, as they called for a military uprising to bring down Nicolas Maduro.
López explained that military members who were guarding him had turned their backs on Maduro and decided to support Guaidó:
“I had meetings in my house when I was under house arrest. I met there with commanders, I met there with generals. I met there with representatives of specific parts of the armed forces and specific parts of the police forces.
“It’s a crack that will become a bigger crack… that will end up breaking the dam”.
He added that he believes Maduro’s government will fall “in weeks.”
Venezuela’s ambassador in Madrid, Mario Isea, accused Lopez of “using the ambassador’s residence as an operational base to abet a military uprising”.
Spain’s acting foreign minister Josep Borrell later warned Mr. Lopez not to use the embassy into “a centre of political activism.”
Meanwhile, Guaido encouraged supporters to march to military bases and barracks:
“Peacefully, civically … we are going to deliver a simple document, a proclamation to the Armed Forces to listen to the Venezuelan call, that a rapid transition is possible to produce free elections.”
To further drive his message of support, Guiado posted the following statement on the social media platform, Twitter:
“The call is to add and not to confront, to ask the military to be on the side of the constitution.”